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SBD Global/April 30, 2013/People and Pop Culture

Bale Named PFA Player Of The Year, PFA Faces Criticism Over Comedian

The PFA apologized for the 'gross error in judgement' for hiring comedian Reginald D. Hunter to perform at the award show.
EPL club Tottenham midfielder GARETH BALE "has been named the Professional Football Association's player and young player of the year" for '12-13, becoming only the third person to clinch the double accolade in the same season, according to James Raich of the London GUARDIAN. Bale was shortlisted for the award along with ManU striker ROBIN VAN PERSIE, Liverpool striker LUIS SUÁREZ, Chelsea midfielders EDEN HAZARD and JUAN MATA and ManU midfielder MICHAEL CARRICK. Suárez "came second and Van Persie third." Bale beat Hazard, Arsenal midfielder JACK WILSHERE, ManU forward DANNY WELBECK, West Brom striker ROMELU LUKAKU and Aston Villa striker CHRISTIAN BENTEKE "to the young player of the year award." The following players were named to the Premier League Team of the Year: ManU goalkeeper DAVID DE GEA, Man City right-back PABLO ZABALETA, Tottenham Hotspur defender JAN VERTONGHEN, ManU defender RIO FERDINAND, Everton defender LEIGHTON BAINES, Carrick, Mata, Bale, Hazard, Suárez and Van Persie (GUARDIAN, 4/28).

SUÁREZ BOOED: The PA reported Suárez's name "was booed twice" at the PFA Player of the Year awards. The PFA "came under fire" last week for its refusal to withdraw Suárez from the Player of the Year shortlist." Suárez was "booed on two separate occasions." The first time came "when he was named in the team of the year, and secondly when his name was read out on the shortlist for Player of the Year" (PA, 4/29).

SPECIAL TALENT: The BBC's Phil McNulty opined "it takes a special talent to win the vote of his fellow players" ahead of Van Persie. Bale's achievement "is further emphasised by the illustrious company he now keeps as one of the few who have claimed the award twice," joining players such as former Welsh forward MARK HUGHES, French striker THIERRY HENRY, Real Madrid striker CRISTIANO RONALDO and former English striker ALAN SHEARER. He "is also only the third player to win the Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year award in the same season," after former Scottish striker ANDY GRAY and Ronaldo (BBC, 4/28).

CONTROVERSIAL PERFORMANCE: In London, Sarah Ebner wrote PFA Chair CLARK CARLISLE has apologized unreservedly for the "gross error of judgment" that led to the hiring of REGINALD D. HUNTER for its awards night. Several guests "complained about the after-dinner routine from the American comedian, who is known for his provocative style, after he repeatedly used the N-word at the event at the Grosvenor Hotel, London." Carlisle: "As chairman I am embarrassed. I apologize unreservedly, and it won't happen again on my watch" (LONDON TIMES, 4/29). Also in London, Ben Rumsby wrote Kick It Out Chair HERMAN OUSLEY "has demanded an explanation" from the PFA over its decision to book Hunter. Ousley said, "I'm surprised there wasn't a mass walkout. It almost begs the question, 'Why does Kick It Out bother?'" Ouseley all but accused Kick It Out's critics of hypocrisy, adding, "All these people can protest when they don't want to wear a T-shirt but they're prepared to listen to a racially-offensive comedian" (TELEGRAPH, 4/29). In London, Ashton & Cass wrote PFA CEO GORDON TAYLOR "tried to play down the furore surrounding Hunter's choice of language." When asked whether it was a mistake to allow Hunter to perform, Taylor replied, "No, no, don't be silly. Are you serious? I think there were a few raised eyebrows over the comedian, but that is the sort of thing you can't control. It was unfortunate." The PFA's official Twitter account also "released a sarcastic message over criticism of the act, which Hunter himself then retweeted." It read: "We've checked all our social media guidelines & still don't know whether we were allowed to enjoy that set!" (DAILY MAIL, 4/28). Also in London, Rory Smith opined "Taylor was abundantly clear on this issue." Taylor: "It is never right to make reference to a person's skin color or nationality." That, "it had been presumed, was now de facto FA -- and PFA -- policy." That, after all, is why former English defender PAUL ELLIOT, "who has worked tirelessly to combat discrimination in football," was sacked after it emerged he had used the N-word in a private text to former Charlton defender RICHARD RUFUS. This "had become a zero-tolerance issue." And then the PFA goes and books Hunter, and Taylor defends his act with the words, "Well, he's a comedian." This "would appear to contradict its cant." This would appear to suggest that there are contexts in which making "reference to a person's skin colour" is, if not right, then certainly acceptable (LONDON TIMES, 4/29).
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